Eleanor has to meet her mother for lunch in an hour. Justin surprised that morning her with a new outfit for her to wear for the occasion. The top is silk, so light it feels like wearing nothing. And that's a problem for Eleanor. "I always feel like people are staring at me when I have this much skin showing," she says, "I prefer to keep my arms covered."
"If people are staring, it's because they admire you, Elle," Justin says, watching her pose in front of the mirror, "Don't hide it. Use it." Having met her mother, Justin is beginning to understand why Eleanor is in constant retreat, living in fear of being noticed.
"Is that what you do?" she asks.
"When I was younger, I used to hit people that stared at me," he says, "That usually stopped them from staring, but it got me nowhere. Knock one down, and there's another one right behind. Eventually I figured out that these people staring at me either feared me or wanted something from me, and that gave me power over them."
"What did you do with that power?" she asks.
Justin shrugs, "Most of time, nothing. I don't need an army of slaves or anything. Just knowing that you have the power is enough Elle. Let them stare; it's just their way of showing throat."
"It's a lovely outfit," Eleanor concedes, "You have remarkable taste. Better than mine, anyway. But you really didn't have to go shopping for me."
Justin takes her in his arms, "I probably get more pleasure out of buying you clothes than you get from wearing them. I got something else I want to show you."
"Let me see," she says, smiling in anticipation. He starts to pull off his shirt.
Before he can show her, a sharp rap on her door interrupts him, and her mother steps in without waiting for Eleanor to invite her in.
"We were going to meet at the restaurant," Eleanor says, surprised to see Beatrice.
"I decided to meet you here. I wanted to discuss something with you," she says, and then her eyes turn to Justin, standing by the bed. "What is he doing in your room?"
"Justin is helping me..." Eleanor stammers, fumbling for an excuse, realizing mid-sentence that saying he's helping her to get dressed won't sound much better than just admitting he's her lover.
It doesn't matter what she says, anyway, as Beatrice just rolls right over her without hearing anything. "Well, I'm certainly glad I showed up when I did," she declares, "Because he's exactly what I came here to discuss with you. I was going to warn you about his obvious predatory intentions, child, but I see you've already fallen into his trap."
"You're being ridiculous, Mother," Eleanor says, "Justin's my friend. A good friend."
Every instinct urges Justin to intervene, to get in there and defend Eleanor from this bitch. But he promised he'd stay out of it. And ultimately, it won't do her any good if he comes in to fight her battles for her. Win or lose, this is something she has to do for herself. So Justin hangs back and watches.
"How, Eleanor? How did you completely forget who you are and where you came from, that you would befriend a--a thug? I knew letting you choose a school so far from home was a bad idea, and you've proven yourself utterly incapable of making rational decisions outside of my guidance. You are coming home with me, and you will start attending classes at a proper school come autumn."
Eleanor finally has had enough, "I'm done hiding the truth from you. I love Justin, and I love living thousands of miles away from you, you overbearing bitch!" She emphasizes her declaration with a hard slap across her mother's face.
Justin smiles, happy he's here to see this.
"You will regret this, Eleanor Catherine Thorne!" Beatrice hisses, "Don't think I will stand by and let you throw yourself, and our fortune, at this thug. You say you want independence? Then you shall have it! From this moment on, your tuition, your rent, your life here, all of it is your hands. I won't be paying your bills anymore, not while you disregard my warnings and disobey me."
"Fine, Mother," Eleanor says, "Now, get out of my apartment. And get out of my life."
"Good show, Elle," Justin says, sensing that it's safe to approach now.
"I'm sorry I didn't just admit what you are to me from the start," she answers, "I shouldn't have tried to hide it."
Beatrice seethes as the couple completely ignores her continued presence.
Seeing that Eleanor won't back down, Beatrice walks out the door, unnoticed. Her daughter is proud and willful, she thinks, but it won't be long before discovers that she cannot live without her family's wealth behind her, and she'll come crawling back home, begging her for forgiveness. Beatrice looks forward to that moment with a dark glee.
"What are you going to do now?" Justin asks, stroking Eleanor's hair as she lets a muffled sob out against his chest.
"I have my job," she says, "That will pay rent, at least. But I won't be able to go to school full time. I'd need two full time jobs just to pay tuition, and then I'd have no time for classes."
"Princess, I have money," he says, "I can help you."
"I do appreciate that you want to help. But she was right about one thing, I do want my independence. I know you wouldn't hold it over me the way she does, but I don't want you paying my way. Buying me a few dresses is fine," she says, smiling, "But I have to survive on my own."
"Just remember, I am always here for you," he says, thinking about the job that is now much more important to her than it was just a few minutes ago, and how her boss is likely to use that against him.
"Before we were interrupted, you wanted to show me something?"
Justin smiles, and pulls off his shirt.
"That's not supposed to be me is it?" Eleanor asks, looking at the winged female figured tattooed on his chest.
"Not literally," he says, "But this ink is for you, guardian of my heart."